Top critical review
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An interesting read, depending on what you're looking for
on 24 October 2007
If you're looking for a juicy lesbian love story, you should really go elsewhere. While Kim and Sugar's unfolding relationship is insightful and more than a little unconventional, I felt the book was more of a social commentary on class distinctions and the differences between private education and comprehensive.
Basically, Sugar is the stereotypical 'council-estate thicko', with no ambitions other than an easy ride in life through such ventures as sleeping with a minor celebrity and then selling her story to a national newspaper (she doesn't do it, but she states it as something she hopes to achieve).
Kim is from the quiet side of Brighton, in a detatched house with a detatched family, coping with an absent mother and an increasingly distant father.
Always living in the limelight of her best friend Zoe 'Saint' Clements, Kim's actually glad when dwindling finances mean she has to leave her posh school and attend the infamous Ravendene Comprehensive. This is where she meets Sugar.
The book is very character driven - don't expect tons of clever plot. It entertains and tests your tolerence for unlikely circumstances, but can sometimes leave you feeling lost or bewildered.
Burchill shows a decent understanding of modern teenagers; many young adult books by UK authors tend to write Americanised, overly mature characters that live unrealistically sophisticated lives, gloryfying school-days into something they're not.
The vacant but intoxifying Sugar will remind many readers of girls they knew at school; the so-called 'slags' or the 'chav' type that were rough but respected. And Kim herself is well executed as the mature-adult-inside-young-girl's-body character, wistfully watching the events of her new friendship unfold.
Lowlights include a lack of proper development - the Kim at the start of the book is similar to the Kim in the last chapter, and the identity of the girl Kim is seeing in the final few pages will leave some readers confused. The resoultion is understandable but unsatisfying.
Overall, it's an interesting read, but don't expect it to be a great help to teens going through an identity crisis, or a dramatic love story. It's a modern love story - no love involved, that is.
I rarely say it, but - watch the first season of the TV series. I prefer it.